Last Modified: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 4:18 PM
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Impersonating someone on Facebook and other online sites can land someone in jail. Selling dogs and cats along roadsides or at flea markets will be banned. And everyone in a sport utility vehicle must wear a seat belt.
Oh, and the pirogue officially becomes Louisiana's state boat.
These are among more than 500 new laws that take effect Wednesday, passed by lawmakers in the regular session that ended in June. Many of the laws will draw little attention, because they are arcane changes to existing laws or tweak penalties and provisions for specific agencies or industries.
Lawmakers established several new crimes and imposed new restrictions on abortion and sex offenders. The pardon and parole boards are being merged. People who report child sexual abuse to authorities now have whistleblower protection so they can't be fired, suspended or demoted because of the allegations.
Abortion is banned 20 weeks after fertilization, except in limited medical cases where the mother's life is in danger. Also, Louisiana's ultrasound requirement for women seeking an abortion has been changed, with the sonogram mandated 24 hours before the procedure, rather than two hours. Doctors must offer women the ability to hear the fetal heartbeat before an abortion.
Supporters of the toughened restrictions said they hoped to persuade women from getting an abortion. Sen. Sharon Broome, D-Baton Rouge, sponsor of the ultrasound changes, said during testimony that she wanted to "empower women with information."
Opponents said the changes restrict doctors' abilities to offer the best medical care to their patients and limit women's access to legal health care services. Despite the criticism, few lawmakers voted against the abortion law changes.
Sex offenders convicted of crimes against minors or video voyeurism face a reworked ban from Facebook and other social networking websites, designed to address a federal judge's decision throwing out a previous ban deemed so broad as to keep sex offenders from using the Internet.
Most noticeable to teenagers and their parents may be the increased training hours required for new drivers.
Seventeen-year-olds, who previously needed six classroom training hours to get their license, must attend a 38-hour driver education course beginning Wednesday. The eight hours of driving instruction and 30 hours of classroom training are the same standards that had been required for 15- and 16-year-olds.
Anyone trying to get a license for the first time has to have eight hours of behind-the-wheel instruction, under the new law.
"I believe this change will produce safer drivers, reduce accidents and save lives. It is also a step toward stabilizing and maybe even reducing automobile insurance rates," said Sen. Gary Smith, D-Norco, sponsor of the training requirement change, in a statement.
In other motor safety changes, lawmakers sought to close a loophole in the seat belt law, requiring everyone in a sport utility vehicle to buckle up — a mandate that already existed for everyone in a car, truck or van.
Another new law stops roadside sales of dogs and cats because of safety and health concerns.
The ban, by Rep. Tony Ligi, R-Kenner, also applies to such sales at flea markets, public parks and playgrounds, and in store parking lots unless the store owner gives permission. Violators of the ban could be fined up to $250 the first time, then up to $1,000 after that.
Also passed by lawmakers was a new statute designed to protect people online.
An adult who impersonates another person on Facebook, in e-mail messages, and on social networking sites and other websites with the intention to harm or defraud now faces a prison sentence ranging from 10 days to six months.Online: Louisiana Legislature: www.legis.la.gov
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Hundreds of new laws passed in the most recent legislative session hit the books Wednesday. Among those on the list:
• Abortion is banned 20 weeks after fertilization, except in limited medical cases where the mother's life is in danger. A woman seeking an abortion must get an ultrasound 24 hours before the procedure and must be offered the ability to hear the fetal heartbeat.
• Everyone in a sport utility vehicle must wear a seat belt in Louisiana, just like everyone in a car, truck or van.
• To get their driver's license, 17-year-olds need the same 38-hour driver education course that has been required for 15- and 16-year-olds.
• Sale of dogs and cats is banned from roadsides, flea markets, public parks and public playgrounds.
• Penalties are increased for certain crimes of battery when the victim is an active member of the military or a disabled veteran. The crimes carry a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in jail if the battery was committed because of a person's military status.
• An adult who impersonates another person on Facebook, e-mail messages, social networking sites and other online sites with the intention to harm or defraud faces a prison sentence ranging from 10 days to six months.
• Falsely impersonating a firefighter carries a prison sentence of up to two years.
• Female genital mutilation is outlawed, a crime that carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
• Anyone who is not a licensed doctor in the state cannot perform an abortion here.
• A limited list of older prisoners serving a life sentence can seek a parole hearing after completing educational training and substance abuse treatment. The hearing isn't allowed for anyone convicted of a violent crime or a sex offense.
• American history and civics courses in Louisiana's public high schools must include instruction on the nation's "founding principles." Teaching on the structure of government, separation of powers, free elections, equal justice, private property rights, federalism, due process, individual responsibility and the Bill of Rights is required.
• People convicted of a sex offense against a minor or of video voyeurism are prohibited from websites like Facebook whose primary purpose is "facilitating social interaction with other users of the website and which allows users to create web pages or profiles about themselves that are available to the public or other users."
• Public school students are required to get instruction about cell phone safety.
• New daycares, preschools and certain elementary schools around Louisiana must be inspected for lead contamination.
• Several inactive boards and commissions are abolished. The state's Board of Parole is eliminated and its duties given to the pardon board.
• Golf carts can be driven at Palmetto Island State Park.
• Louisiana's official boat is the pirogue.
Posted By: Shane Jones On: 8/2/2012
Title: What about the joke that our foodstamp program has become.
I can't understand how anybody can get up to $600 a month in foodstamps then get back up to $3000 back on their income tax at the end of the year. I don't think it's anybody elses place to feed kids that you chose to have but clearly can't afford. I can understand extreme cases of where the bread winner dies or runs off and a woman has to go it alone but this whole thing with grown adults pushing their responcibility of providing for their family off on the state and in effect the tax payer is just pathitic. Also we need to have random drug testing for people recieving any state asistance...(I took one at my job today.) I believe anyone getting such help should first be made to enroll in some form of educational program (G.E.D) or trade school in order to be a more productive citizen and all foodstamps should go to real food and not "junk food", and any aid should have a two year per household lifetime limit.
Posted By: CATHY On: 8/1/2012
Title: Getting paid for nothing
Is this what our Senators get paid for to make up new silly law,are you kidding me.I t saddens me to know that I live in Lousiania.Yes some are justified others seem so silly that you guys had to sit there and make up these new laws to have us all belive that you are working.lET ME HELP YOU ALL OUT
Why not start a new law that if a unwed female gets pregnant and wants child support she gets no state or fed help .Theres one for you all to start working on to earn a pay ck